Workingwoman vs Stay-at-home mom

—Umanath Nayak

The educated, middle-class Indian woman of today is at crossroads. Should she be a working woman—with all its attendant stresses and its rewards or stick to being a home-maker and in the process get labelled as housewife? Balancing both is not easy. Evidently, the opinions expressed by women in favour or against these options would be influenced by their own circumstances and the choices they make. Whether a dispassionate opinion can be expressed by a third person such as myself, considering that I have had the opportunity to live with someone who has tried both—initially as a working woman and then as a home-maker—is something that I leave the reader to decide.

The Working Woman, no doubt, commands the respect and awe of her peers. Her skills (which she has acquired with hard work and dedication) and her determination to prove her detractors wrong (those who told her that balancing a career and a family would not be easy) make a formidable combination. It’s not been an easy path for them to reach the top! Unlike their male counterparts who can take it easy, be themselves and do what they always liked to do. Of course, for the working woman, all these come at a price—whether small or great depends on one’s outlook. There are several detractors as well—domestic squabbles, wayward children and people around her, who expect her to take the responsibility of maintaining harmony at home and still manage the work place. It is an exceptional woman who is able to balance both home and career perfectly and I have had the great fortune to come across many such exceptional women.

For the homemaker, the challenges are different, yet not less daunting. Though very happy and contented with her life and its simple pleasures like seeing her young child’s bright smile when she picks him up from the school bus-stop and her husband’s appreciative look when she has cooked a tasty meal, the real problem comes when she comes across her acquaintances who work. They leave no chance to remind her of her status as a mere housewife and what she is missing out, despite her education and her background. Their patronizing attitude towards her domestic bliss; details of her children’s academic achievements and husband’s career progress leaves her seething with rage and creates doubt in her, when she thinks to herself, “Am I doing the right thing by staying at home?” It is thus the society around her that plays a major role in her discontent, telling her that she could be doing something better!

So, what is the right choice for the young, urban, smart and educated, middle-class Indian woman of today? Should she be a career woman or a homemaker? In many families, economic constraints dictate that both partners should work. The lady in such case is not left with an option, but to balance career and home to the best of her ability, however challenging that might be. Therefore, it is important for all of us to understand the reasons behind the choice that a lady makes (either to be a homemaker or an office-goer), which is probably more important than the choice itself. There is nothing shameful in choosing to be a stay-at-home mom; just like being a career woman does not mean that you do not care for your children or husband.

Today, letting every woman make a career choice of her own free will rather than imposing an option on her, will make her happy to tread the path of her choice!

About the Author
Dr Umanath Nayak is an accomplished surgeon who has worked in India and in the US and is settled in Hyderabad, India. He has authored two books—A Monogram on Voice Restoration after Total Laryngectomy and Enduring Cancer, an inspirational book on cancer survivors. He also writes regularly for The Hindu newspaper. He is presently working on a medi-fiction novel, due for publication shortly.

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